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UK Helmet Parachute breakdown.

Article about: Oh, the enquiring mind. Here are some pictures of the inside bits and pieces of a British paratroop helmet. First the establishing shots of the outside and basic interior, and the rarely-see

  1. #1

    Default UK Helmet Parachute breakdown.

    Oh, the enquiring mind. Here are some pictures of the inside bits and pieces of a British paratroop helmet.

    First the establishing shots of the outside and basic interior, and the rarely-seen crown stamp, with the NP for National Plastics, date of 1998, size L for Large, and part of the Nato Stock Number. The basic substance of the shell seems to be black, the green paint is quite roughly textured, both in and out.


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    And here's the basic interior shell liner - cheap polystyrene, almost throwaway. The cork panels are intended as easy breakouts to make using a comms headset more comfortable. The front has two cutouts, the back one. I do not know what the front cutouts are for - the one at the back is to allow access to the reat chinstrap fixing bolt.

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    The interior of the interior. The white-ish panel in the crown is residue from where the (missing) makers' label would have been glued. Its easy to see how fragile the liner really is. There are two rather insubstantial rubber pads, glued fore and aft, the rear one shown in the detail picture.

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    The cradle is a simple plastic structure, stapled and perhaps glued, with the cloth element sewn to it. There is a thin foam rubber strip beneath the cloth. This is all essentially the same as the earlier para helmet liner, the only real difference being the black leather browpiece as opposed the white leather fitted to the earlier models.


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    I have several of these helmets and I would truly like to dismantle them all, to see the liner mouldings if nothing else (its a harmless obsession...) but this is actually fantastically difficult. I have taken a couple apart but that's been down to luck rather than skill or appropriate kit. It seems to me that a snake-tongue screwdriver is essentially for undoing these bolts, but finding one of an appropriate size is proving impossible, and so far all attempts to *make* a succesful tool have ended in tears of frustration (I only exaggerate very slightly). As this liner is *meant* to be replaceable in the event of even slight damage there has to be a way of doing this a lot more quickly and easily than I can manage. A tool found only in the QM stores, perhaps. Anyone got any ideas? The problem is that the slotted nut (which is on the inside, embedded within the polystyrene liner shell) has to be held firm so that the bolt can be undone. The nut is 15mm diameter, and the shaft of the bolt 5mm. Improvisation does not work. So far.

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  2. #2

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    Interesting to see , i know from some of the helmets i have had , the foam behind the black liner always falls apart and normally makes a mess of your hair when wearing one of these helmets

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    Hello greg ,its always great to see the time and effort you put into the study of these composites and how they tick , i dont know if i applied the correct technique but i found once the inner liner string was removed on my example it opened up enough to fascilitate the complete removal of the foam padding without the need to unbolt the liner at all ,alas my crown sticker was all but gone apart from a broad arrow mark but it was a good opportunity to blow away the cobwebs Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote by James C View Post
    i dont know if i applied the correct technique but i found once the inner liner string was removed on my example it opened up enough to fascilitate the complete removal of the foam padding without the need to unbolt the liner at all
    Wow, that's a very interesting tactic! Mind you I don't necessarily see how it worked - in the example I dismantled the two side bolts actually go through the holes in the breakout cork panel....oh, hang on, I *can* see how it worked of course, with yours the breakout comms panel had already been, er, broken out.... Still, I'm very interested to hear that its a possibility - I'll go and look at all my exampoles and see what's what.

    Incidentally, just in case anyone has wondered, I called it the 'Helmet, Parachute' because that's what these later (Mk2?) examples are labelled; the earlier ones are slightly different, the more common Thetford examples are usually 'Helmet, Parachutists, Light Weight' and the Permali-made are be 'Helmet, Parachutists'. And some people just call the whole lot the '76 Model (and I am pretty sure they are wrong!).

  5. #5

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    Thanks greg ,i wasn't trying to be a smartie pants ,i just went in guns blazing and started pulling and hey presto a bouncing baby foam pad i was the same when younger ,i built the airfix kit and then looked at the instructions at the end when i had all these spare parts your spot on though as there were no restrictive side pads to impede my progress,that alone tells a story behind the helmets history mine shows the tan browpad so now im wondering if i do indeed have an earlier model as there is no lightweight mention on the thetford stickers what so ever ,the shell is not textured but smooth so perhaps just a few years senior to your example shown im quite fond of my example roots as it has taff emblazoned across the front ,it has come home to roost Click image for larger version. 

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  6. #6

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    James looks like Taff had mine visor clips fitted to the side of his helmet , this happens quite abit in Royal Engineers where you get airborne trained troops who want to keep hold of their jump helmet when told they have to exchange it for a mk6 /mk6a for fitting the mine visor when they are doing mine warfare training

  7. #7

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    Many thanks kradman you must of read my mind as the next question i was going to put forward to greg was about these mystery holes in the shell sides and it explains why the cork side sections have been removed too ,ive always believed the holes were to tie an elasticated chinstrap through when wearing an s6 or s10 so your explanation makes better sense
    regards ,james

  8. #8

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    You are welcome James you also sometimes see the airborne troops fitting a para helmet liner and chin strap inside the mk6a shell to stand out from normal troops ,

  9. #9

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    Some people mow lawns, play golf, tinker with their cars, listen to jazz. I do one of them, and I also take helmets apart. Here we are again, another couple of dismantled British Helmet, Parachute.

    This first one is quite early, 1984 dated, made by Permali of Gloucester (who still exist in the composite business, but have not made military helmets for a long time). Smooth shell, as you can see, with essentially the same liner and chinstrap system as most other issue helmets.

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    The labels - on the interior of the liner, and another on the interior of the shell - are interesting in that they have the same handwritten number - 2134. The small white object in the crown is another sticker, with simply the '2134' handwritten on it.

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    The next one is a National Plastics model from fourteen years later. At least, the shell has a 1998 moulded date, but the label is 1999. The shell is the standard rough-textured type as shown in an above posting, so not pictured here.

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    Something slightly unusual about the moulding in the crown - the last digit of the date appears to be an insert of some kind, which I have not seen so far in other shells. Apparently done to change the year without a complete remaking of the mould. Probably. Also, in an example shown above the lettering showed NP and an A either side of the size letter, and here the latter character is a B. Also the last digit of the numeral below is different, reading 4577 here as oppposed to 4578 in the previously shown example. I had thought that was perhaps part of the Nato Stock Number but it obviously is not. Batch number? I don't know. Someone must.

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    And finally, a picture of the little tool I made by cutting down a 2p coin. It helps, but not much. The nuts are so hard to move (or keep still, depending on which way you're trying to do it) that the metal burrs and deforms easily, making it even more difficult. I've had some correspondence with an ex-Armourer about this particular kind of fitting and when asked if there was an easy way of undoing it he said simply, No. Oh. The other pic is a bolt that has completely defeated me. I managed to work off the liner anyway, but I wouldn't recommend it.

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  10. #10

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    I think the leather brow pads are coloured to indicate different sizes. From memory, I've seen white, black, possibly brown. (Might be cam cream discolouration.)

    Also, I'm sure that I've seen some of the polystyrene liners with NO cork break-out sections.

    Easier dismantled as a two-man job: One grips the helmet and holds a tool against the inside nut, the other applies the force on the bolt. Something like a modified (re-ground) Bren gun combination tool should do the trick.

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